Dance of Two Cultures

In collaboration with the campus and surrounding communities, the Latin American Studies Program supports concerts, theme dinners, film screenings, symposia, service-learning projects, debates and teach-ins organized by various student organizations, faculty, campus divisions, and neighborhood associations. Every semester speakers who are experts in a field related to the courses being offered or who are directly involved with social, political, academic or cultural activities in Latin America are invited to campus. Our students are offered numerous opportunities to engage with Latino or Latin American communities in many other ways as well.

Second Annual World Cinema Festival: 'The German Doctor' - with Carolyn Wolfenzon

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February 17, 2015 7:00 PM  – 10:00 PM
Sills Hall, Smith Auditorium

Patagonia, 1960. A German doctor meets an Argentinean family and joins them on a long desert road to a small town where they will be starting a new life. Eva, Enzo and their three children welcome the doctor into their home and entrust their young daughter, Lilith to his care, not knowing they are harboring one of the most dangerous criminals in the world and that Israeli agents are desperately looking to bring him to justice. 

The German Doctor (Lucía Puenzo, Argentina, 2013) is the true story of the family who lived with Josef Mengele, the German SS officer known as the "Angel of Death," without knowing his true identity. It also follows the girl who fell in love with one of the most heinous criminals of all time in the years he spent "hiding" in South America following his escape from Germany. 

Presented by Carolyn Wolfenzon, assistant professor of romance languages.

Bowdoin’s World Cinema Festival offers a varied program of important contemporary narrative and documentary films from around the world with post-screening discussions moderated by faculty and students. 

The public is welcomed at no charge and tickets are not required.

The 2nd Annual World Cinema Festival is sponsored by the Blythe Bickel Edwards Fund, the Latin American Studies Program, the Asian Studies Program, the Africana Studies Program, the Russian Department, the Romance Languages Department, the English Department, MacMillan House, the Bowdoin Film Society, and the Cinema Studies Program.

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Portland Playback Theater: "Letting the World In: Stories of Discovery"

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February 26, 2015 7:00 PM  – 8:30 PM
Sills Hall, Smith Auditorium

The Portland Playback Theater comes to campus for a wonderful evening of storytelling and improv theater! This troupe of highly-trained, multi-talented actors featuring Erin Curren, visiting lecturer in French, will "playback" audience stories of discovery, difficulty, culture, realization and more. The group joins the art of improvisation with real-life stories spontaneously shared by members of the audience. Using movement, dialogue and music, the actors seek to honor the countless moments and events that shape our lives. 

Portland Playback Theatre Company was founded in Portland, Maine in 2005. The Playback Theatre style models transformation; a new way to relate to the world. When trained playback practitioners enact a story told by a member of the audience, a deep bond of understanding is established between the “teller” and the audience. Playback helps people see their common humanity. When people join together in sharing their stories and watching the re-enactments, it engenders an ability to focus on commonalities rather then judgments of otherness.  

Hosted by the Off Campus Study office, along with the McKeen Center and other offices on campus.

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Dancer and Choreographer Chantal Loïal: 'On t'appelle Venus (They Call You Venus)'

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February 28, 2015 7:00 PM  – 9:00 PM
Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

In her performance piece, On t'appelle Venus, choreographer and dancer Chantal Loial pays tribute to Sawtche (1789-1819), known as the Black Venus, who had been brought to France in the nineteenth century by a "tamer" who prostituted her and exploited her as a circus freak. Swatche's body, deemed abnormal, fascinated the European imagination. After she died, scientists dissected her body and displayed it at the Musee de l'Homme in Paris, all in the name of scientific and anthropological progress. Through this artistic expression of her body, Chantal Loial invites us to think of feminine body and the norms we use to draw laws about both the body and beauty.

Loial created her dance company in 1994. She began dancing her native Afro-Guadeloupean traditional dances at age seven and went on to become a professional choreographer and dancer, earning her diploma in contemporary dance at the National Dance Centre of Pantin, France in 2008. She reinterprets traditional Caribbean and African dances that she mixes with European ballet and other forms of dance. In 2014, Loïal received the highest French Order, the National Order of the Legion of Honor for her work in the Arts (Knight of the Legion of Honor).

Open to the public free of charge.

For more information, contact Hanétha Vété-Congolo at

Sponsored by the Andrew Mellon Foundation (Mellon Humanities Initiative).

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Film Screening: 'Secundaria' with Filmmaker Mary Jane Doherty

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March 30, 2015 7:00 PM  – 9:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Cleaveland 151

Boston University film professor Mary Jane Doherty traveled to Cuba multiple times over a period of years to complete what the Boston Globe called a “lucid, watchful portrait of young ballet dancers desperately trying to plié their way out of poverty and into the Ballet Nacional."

Doherty’s documentary Secundaria follows one high school class on its journey through Cuba’s world famous National Ballet School.  The teenage dancers love to dance…but many of them must dance as the only way to improve the lives of their impoverished families. 

As we follow Doherty’s primary subjects—middle-class Gabriela, poor Mayara, poorer Moises— Secundaria reveals itself through cinematic storytelling (and without a script, staging, or interviews) as being less about competing in dance and more about battling into adulthood.

Post-screening discussion with the filmmaker.

Free and open to the public - no tickets required.

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